How collaboration can take private label brands to the next level

Store Brands will be holding its Innovation & Collaboration Summit on August 15, 2016. Billed as an innovation-focussed education event, it aims to help retailers, suppliers and service providers take today's store brand programs to the next level. It also calls for plenty of networking between delegates.

As one of these delegates, I am looking forward to hearing from the host of leading industry thinkers and retail change agents who will be focused on the opportunities and challenges facing the private label industry.

I’m also interested to hear views on how forging mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships can result in brand and product innovation, address challenges around transparency and increase customer loyalty and engagement.

Collaborate to unlock market potential

What makes this event unique is the opportunity for pre-arranged meetings to take place between retailers, private label suppliers and service providers to start the process of collaboration. This includes one-to-one conversation on unlocking market potential and mutual growth.

I believe a positive step for all key retail stakeholders is to think and act collaboratively to build stronger, more impactful relationships with business partners. One of the fundamental changes needed within the private label Industry is the transition from a transactional, highly-tactical form of a relationship to a shared environment of control and access.

It’s great to see this summit providing a forum for this to happen – and the question is how can the momentum continue after the event? How can we continue to create meaningful and sustainable change in retailer relationships?

The necessity for change

Meeting the changing needs of customers is increasingly difficult.

Numerous pieces of research and consumer studies show an evolution in consumer choice. Consumers can now access what they want, when they want it with 24/7 shopping available via multiple store formats and channels, both in-store and online.

Shoppers can choose from multiple brands offering products that meet their specific needs. They want brands to address them personally and consistently offer a great experience.

As we know in this age of social media, consumers also want to share their experiences - both good and bad - with brands and retailers, as well as their peers. It is therefore important to listen to customers and let them tell you what they want.

So how can private brand retailers keep up with the rate and frequency of changing consumer demands? It comes back to collaboration with suppliers.

A research report published by the Capre Group states that, ‘in this new shopper paradigm, suppliers and retailers must stand side-by-side and work together to unlock new levels of growth.’

A key point that Capre Group makes is that private label brands have demonstrated that they can build shopper loyalty as well as challenge a national brand’s relationship with its customers.

They go on to say that, “retailer scale and access to data has made private label brands feasible options for growth – but they also require retailers to build entirely new capabilities to order to compete with their biggest brand partners.”

I believe that the opportunity for growth via private brands is more than feasible. From what I am seeing in the marketplace, private brands offer a key strategic option and a mandate for growth.

Where to start with progressing collaboration with your business partners?

Retailers need to enable and sustain the process of collaboration through a revised business model. It’s essential that retailers and suppliers keep an eye on unlocking market potential and mutual growth by providing products that reflect the evolving customer.

Products should address the evolving decision drivers that customers now incorporate into their shopping. According to a research report from Deloitte, entitled Capitalizing on the Shifting Consumer Food Value Equation, these evolving value drivers include:

  • Health and Wellness
  • Safety
  • Social impact
  • Experience
  • Transparency (an overarching driver)

Incorporating what consumers want into brands begins with collaboration between external suppliers and partners. However, one of the challenges that many retailers face is the lack of a platform for meaningful external collaboration.

This can be achieved with a systematic approach, and engaging via a single platform to execute a program that builds collaborative ecosystems and communities with suppliers.

A ‘best in class’ engagement platform should create a supportive environment (both internal and external) for cultivating connections to bring brand initiatives to life.

Here are four principles that should be incorporated into the strategy:

Align via an online platform

  • Suppliers collaborate with the retail team
  • Working as ‘One Team’ brings initiatives to life

Share via a knowledgebase

  • Self-help provides support and resources
  • Helps ensure project commitments are met

Engage by having clear objectives and using surveys

  • Measurable communication with stakeholders
  • Understand risk in the supply chain

Grow via insights gained from performance dashboards

  • Real-time feedback to track progress
  • Take actions to adapt the program
  • Sharing metrics drives performance

It is with this collaboration in mind, and the desire for meaningful and sustainable change, that I’ll be attending the Store Brands Summit. I’m also really interested to hear how the retail industry plans to increase its collaboration with suppliers and partners to unlock the market potential within private label portfolios and encourage mutual growth for all stakeholders.

Tags: Supplier engagement

Steven Howell

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